In Iceland, instead of Santa, Iceland has 13 mischievous Yule lads, a child eating ogress, and an evil Christmas cat. The Yule lads (Jólasveinar) are trolls who live in undisclosed locations in the mountains or highlands, but come to town, one by one, during December. The total number of the Yule lads varies in old stories, but in the 19th and early 20th century the tradition of 13 lads became universal. This means that the first Yule lad comes to town in the early morning of December 12 and the last on the 24th. They then depart in the same order as they arrive, each spending 13 days with us humans. Icelandic children await the coming of the Yule lads with great anticipation, leaving their shoe on the window sill of their room, as each Yule lads bring with it small treats for children who have been good, while leaving old potatoes with those who have been naughty.
The names of the Lads are:
- Stekkjastaur, Stiff legs or Sheep-Cote Clod: Has long, stiff legs, and steals milk by suckling farmers’ ewes,
- Giljagaur, Gully Gawk: Hides in gullies above town, then steals milk from cowsheds
- Stúfur, Stubby: Small and short, steals pots and pans and eats leftovers.
- Þvörusleikir, Spoon Licker: Portrayed as long and thin. Steals unwashed spoons, which he licks clean.
- Pottaskefill, Pot Scraper: Steals unwashed pots, and licks them clean.
- Askasleikir, Bowl Licker: Steals unattended food bowls which he then licks clean.
- Hurðaskellir, Door Slammer: Slams doors which are kept ajar at night, keeping people awake.
- Skyrgámur, Skyr Gobbler: Steals skyr from the pantry.
- Bjúgnakrækir, Sausage Swiper: Hides in the rafters to snatch sausages which are hung up for smoking.
- Gluggagægir, Window Peeper: Lies outside the house, peeking through windows,
- Gáttaþefur, Door Sniffer: Has a huge nose to sniff out where people are baking, then steals cakes and cookies.
- Ketkrókur, Meat Hook: Steals meat, Hangikjöt, using a long hook.
- Kertasníkir, Candle Beggar: Steals candles from children.
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